Bottom Dollar


“How would you like to work for two weeks, and come out with a $6 check?” That’s the reality for almost 250,000 Americans with disabilities who are paid below the minimum wage. Bottom Dollars exposes this exploitative system and offers solutions to end segregation and discrimination against workers with disabilities.

About the film

When the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938, it included a revolutionary protection: a minimum wage. But Section 14(c) of the Act included an exemption allowing some workers, people with disabilities, to be paid less than minimum wage.

This provision was originally designed to persuade employers to hire people with disabilities and open up opportunities. Instead, people with disabilities were often employed in “sheltered workshops,” segregated workplaces away from their communities, earning sub-minimum wage. Three quarter of a century later, 14(c) remains in effect.

In 2016, nearly 250,000 people are legally paid less than the minimum wage, on average, less than $2 an hour.  “Bottom Dollars” is an hour-long documentary that exposes the exploitation of people with disabilities through personal stories and expert interviews. It also presents clear employment alternatives with competitive wages and community inclusion.

Do we want all people to have a shot at a job for fair pay in our own communities, or do we want some people to be separated, exploited and robbed of their chance to seize the American dream for ourselves?

Discussion Guides

A free version of the Bottom Dollars documentary is available on our Bottom Dollars YouTube playlist. The playlist includes a promo and the full documentary split into individual chapters. Community members and organizations are welcome to screen this documentary for educational purposes, as long as participants are not charged an admittance fee.

Disability Rights Washington Reports

Hours That Count, November 2014


Official Selection for the Workers Unite Film Festival, 2018

Official Selection for ReelAbilities Film Festival – New York, 2018

Jury Prize, Show Me Justice Film Festival 2017

Official Selection for Festival Inclús 2017

Official Selection – Cinema On The Bayou Film Festival 2017

Official Selection – ReelAbilities Pittsburgh 2016

Main Characters

Brendan Welch
Concord, NH

Tillman Mitchell
Vicksburg, MS

Gloria Marrero
Rochester, NY

Sara Frost
South Hampton, NH

Andy Owens
Portland, OR

Charles Biebl
Baltimore, MD

Dexter Smith
Gallup, NM

Hugh Bertolin
Olympia, WA

Joe Steffy
Louisburg, KS

Pamela Steward
Tiffin, OH

Trust Jones
Branson, MS

Le’Ron Jackson
Jackson, MS